Social Services offers free counseling to students

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— Loss, suicide, substance abuse and anger.

Those are some of the subjects tackled first-hand by Moffat County children and teenagers and the Day in School Counseling program.

Moffat County Social Services works with Craig Mental Health to coordinate DISC, a counseling program students can attend during the school day.

The program started about six years ago at the request of Peggy Sammons, a counselor with Craig Mental Health. She wanted a way to reach children and young adults who were having a hard go of it, without the roadblocks of money and stigmas about therapy.

Social Services budgets about $100,000 each year for the program and has spent all of that money every year except for one, Social Services Director Marie Peer said. DISC currently counsels about 20 families.

"It's meant to help kids do better and keep families together so they can better navigate life," Peer said.

The program requires three components to therapy. Par-ticipating students meet once a week individually, males and females meet once a week in groups and families are required to meet with a counselor once a month.

Sammons prefers families to meet twice a month, and many of them do, she said.

DISC also provides for a psychiatrist to prescribe medicine if the student, family or counselor wants to seek that as an option.

"I personally think the program has been very successful, and that families have been happy with it," Sammons said. "More and more, it is the students that request (to participate in the program). Also, many of them go to the school counselor and ask who they can talk to about certain things, and the counselors refer them to us. Sometimes the parents seek help, also."

Increasing numbers of students and Moffat County School District staff have emb-raced the program since it began, Sammons said.

High school counselor Carroll Moore said the program is important and has been invaluable to some students.

"There's just a lot of kids that have had big losses in their lives," Moore said. "It's a good program and (Sammons) is wonderful with the kids. They really relate to her well, which is very important in a counselor relationship."

School counselors are available to see their students, but do not have the ability to meet them at a scheduled time once each week, Moore said, let alone with groups and meet with their families.

"The family component is really important," Moore said. "Sometimes parents like to send their kids to a counselor and say, 'Fix them.' Really, the family needs to be involved."

Moore often refers students to DISC, she said. Sammons will meet with them to determine the best time of day to meet for counseling and tries to schedule it during study hall or physical education rather than during a core class.

Certain situations qualify students for a referral to DISC, Moore said.

She looks to only send students that wouldn't otherwise be able to pay for therapy. Some health insurance companies don't cover mental health, and some people don't have any insurance at all, she said.

There are quite a few students who talk about suicide and have issues with cutting, or students who have lost parents, siblings or friends, Moore said.

"I have seen several kids go through the program and done a lot better," she added. "I have kids now waiting for services.

"It definitely fills a need where those kids would not get help otherwise."

Currently, there is not enough money available to enroll any more students and families. Anyone with questions about the DISC program should call Peer at 824-8282.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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